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TRAINING: I have been training alongside Ryan Bader for this fight, as he fights in Japan 10 days later. We train twice a day and have been implementing techniques coached by Tom Vaughn, our new MMA coach at Power MMA and Fitness.I am returning to my home state of Nebraska for this fight in Omaha. I expect to have a big following there from friends and relatives that I grew up with in McCook, NE and people from my manager, Dave Martin's home state South Dakota. I first learned to wrestle in Nebraska. My dad was a State Championship Coach and is in the Nebraska High School Wrestling Coaches Hall of Fame. I have a lot of history there, and am planning to put on a show.
When and why did you start training for fighting? As a coach, I was well aware of the UFC and what type of opportunity it provides for world-class wrestlers. Jesse Forbes came to us at ASU to get ready for the TUF 3 finale. I knew I wanted to try my hand in the sport but I had to find the best way to separate myself from the kids I was coaching. After Cain, CB and Bader graduated ASU and begun their MMA careers, I knew I would not too far behind. So about a year ago I dedicated myself to being a full time fighter and set a goal to get in one of the best organizations in the world. Wrestlers in general wrestle for the love of the sport. For us wrestlers, the UFC is like having the NFL, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
What ranks and titles have you held? 2 time NCAA ALL American, 12th most wins in ASU’s Wrestling history, 1997 Pac 10 Champion and “Outstanding Wrestler” for the Pac 10 division, 5th place US Olympic Trials in 2000, 4th Place US Olympic Trials in 2004, USA National Team Member, 142-1 in High School, Member of Real Pro Wrestling, He and His wife competed as a team on season 2 of NBC’s American Gladiators, wins over such notable wresters as Mark Munoz, Olympian Ben Askren, and Olympian Andy Hrovat.
Do you have any heroes? My heroes are my family, wife and my kids. I just had twins, and my mother-in-law was the surrogate. I want to be able to give my kids and family everything they need to be happy in life. My mother-in-law and her sacrifice that she made for my wife and I really sets the standard of how I want to be for my kids. My wife and I will never forget what she did for us and we will live our lives trying to be half the person she is today.
What is your favorite technique? I like the entire aspect of a fight. I love the mental aspects combined with the physical test.
What does it mean for you to fight in the UFC? Getting the call to move up from the WEC to the UFC is a dream come true for me. This was a goal of mine since first stepping foot into AZ Combat Sports. But, it is not about just fighting in the UFC. It is about executing my technique and imposing my will and ultimately getting my hand raised one fight at a time. This is just another journey in my life that I am putting everything into. It is a process of discovering what it is that I am made of. It is a chance to test myself as I bring a skill set that I have been sharpening since I started wrestling at age 4. Now, I get to see where I stand on the biggest stage in MMA. I’m looking forward to stepping out in the Octagon and letting my hands fly.
Did you go to college and if so what degree did you earn? I graduated from ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism.
What was your job before you started fighting? I spent 9 years at ASU as an assistant Wrestling Coach, 1 year at Cal Poly as an assistant Wrestling Coach and during the summer months I help coach the Sunkist Wrestling program. You can say I spent my entire life preparing to fight in the sport of MMA.